It is always exciting to go to a concert. Not only do fans get to watch and cheer for your favorite band, they get to check out new bands they have not heard or seen before. Not only that, but the best show is usually the last show of a major nationwide tour because the homestretch is usually where the band shines. On Monday August 29, a show like that occurred at The Observatory in Santa Ana, Calif. It was the last stop for nu metal giants Otep. They had a great assembly of hungry bands showing this country why they are the future of heavy duty metal. Let me tell you, I noticed.
After opening groups Pinkish Black and One Day Waiting did their sets, out came this group from LA called Aboleth. What drew me to them was their sound; desert rock meets psychedelic metal. Their singer, Brigitte Roka, has a mesmerizing voice that just hypnotized me; I could not turn my eyes from her. While she is not a flashy singer, she makes up for it with a voice that is spellbinding. With songs like “No Good” and “Blood Snow,” Roka has the look and attitude of Janis Joplin and the voice of Alanis Morissette. When they were playing “Corpsehunter,” the riff played by guitarist Collyn McCoy was out of sight; you can hear the Queens of the Stone Age influence. He played his licks on his custom made baguitar (a bass and guitar rolled into one). With great drum beats by veteran Dan Joeright, Aboleth made their impression with me and it was a good one.
Going from sludge metal to straight-up metalcore/nu metal, the next to hit the stage brought the crowd to its feet. They are known as Fire From the Gods, hailing from Austin, Texas. As soon as frontman AJ Channer grabs the mic, the audience bum rushes to the stage to get a glimpse of this flow master. Channer is like Chuck D, Zach De la Rocha and Corey Taylor rolled into one. The stage persona he brought was electrifying. He was very engaging with the fans, who had fun watching him sing. The songs they played like “Public Enemy,” “Pretenders,” and “End Transmission,” were intense. The guitar action was a huge smash, played brilliantly by the guitar duo of Jameson Teat and Drew Walker. Bassist Bonner Baker was so appealing to the attendees, that they moved to his insane beats, while drummer Richard Wicander was killing it behind the drum kit. Fire From the Gods just played amazing wall-to-wall heavy rock. I see these guys as the future of rap metal.
Following the killer set list Fire gave Santa Ana, it was time for the band I came to the show to watch. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Doll Skin from Phoenix, Ariz. Led by the sensational Sydney Dolezal, Doll Skin picked up where Fire From the Gods left off and rocked the house. Dolezal has attitude in her voice that would rival Joan Jett and Debbie Harry (Blondie). Guitarist Alex Snowden played some of the best solos of the night, reminding me of Lita Ford and Lzzy Hale of Halestorm. Both Snowden and bassist Nicole Rich have such a great chemistry on stage and drummer Meghan Shea Herring is outstanding behind the drum kit. They were thrilling to watch and the audience just ate it up. When Doll Skin played their hit song “Furious Fixation,” the fans began to sing parts of the chorus and bridge. That is what I love to see, a positive reaction from the crowd to a awesome band.
After five acts in, the main attraction, Otep, emerged to the stage and the crowd went totally ape-shit. Led by the ferocious Otep Shamaya, this group played a fearsome setlist. Performing hit songs like “Zero” and “Smash the Control Machine,” it is no wonder that Otep is a fan favorite among metal fans. Shamaya was on fire the whole time, flowing her hip-hop rhythms with alternative metal craziness. One of the weirdest things about the band was that guitarist Ari Mihalopoulos wore a gladiator mask. I actually dug it. The entire band looked like they came from the set of a Mad Max movie. Pouring out so much energy, it gave the crowd a chance to go wild. Celebrating the release of their sixth album Doom Generation, Otep were balls to the wall heavy. Like Fire, they let out all this negative energy in their music and it came back positive. I was not present at their other shows this tour, but I would imagine it was one of their best because I did enjoy watching them blow the roof off the Observatory.
The city of Santa Ana came alive that night. Not only did I get to see some exciting new bands just itching to get noticed, I also witnessed veteran metal rock groups performing their hearts out. The best part of the night was when Fire From the Gods started their last song, all the groups from the tour (minus Otep) took to the stage and started dancing with Channer. That was a sight for sore eyes. For me, it represents a celebration of touring together. I could tell that all the groups had fun being on the road together. My friend Matt Martinez and I took some tremendous photos of the concert. Now that this tour is over, the bands will begin the next chapter of their rock ‘n’ roll lives. It will be exciting to see what is next for each act. To all the bands that killed it, I salute you. Horns up!!!